Discover stunning gardens, the historic city of Chester and the breathtaking scenery of the Lake District. This tour of the North West of England is full of surprises; there’s even a stop off for all Beatrix Potter fans.
Begin your day at the grand estate of Tatton Park, winner of VisitEngland’s Large Visitor Attraction of the Year, 2014. Visit the historic Tudor Old Hall and neoclassical mansion where you can learn all about life above and below stairs. Take time to wander around the picture-perfect 50-acre Edwardian garden, home to a rare-breed farm and 1,000 acres of deer park. Elements of the garden were designed by Lewis William Wyatt and Joseph Paxton, architects of Crystal Palace in London. Enjoy the different areas including the walled kitchen garden, Japanese garden and glasshouses. Explore the hundreds of acres of Tatton’s parkland by bike, available for hire during the weekends and school holidays. Get lost in the maze and when you find your way out, visit the Gardener’s Cottage café for a light lunch before you move on to your next place of interest, Chester.
Enjoy the 50-minute drive via the A556, passing through some pretty towns and villages to the historic city of Chester. Chester is home to the oldest racecourse, a 1,000-year-old cathedral, England’s largest Roman amphitheatre and even a zoo. The city is best explored on foot or aboard an open top bus, where you’ll learn all about its history. You can take the two-mile (3.2 km) walk around the city wall – the most complete city wall in England. A must-see is Chester Cathedral; the cloisters and church form one of the most complete medieval monastic complexes in the country. Learn all about the skills of centuries of craftsman from the Norman arches and gothic columns to the spectacular 14th century woodcarvings and medieval shrine. Take time to enjoy the stunning stained glass windows.
Explore the Rows, a double deck shopper’s delight and home to the oldest shopping façade in England, where you’ll find many unusual shops. Chester is full of great pubs and inns where you can enjoy real ales and hearty food – visitchester.com/eat-drink-shop/pubs/real-ale
For great places to stay in Chester: visitchester.com/accommodation
Enjoy a full English breakfast to set yourself up for the 1 h 45 min drive up the M6 motorway to your next place of interest, Levens Hall historic house and garden in the Lake District. Occupied since around 1350, the interior of the house is of the Elizabethan period with oak panelling and ornate plasterwork. Stroll around the world famous 17th century topiary gardens, designed by Monsieur Beaumont in 1694 with over 100 individual topiary pieces, some over nine metres high. Look up to enjoy the towering topiary, many are interesting geometric shapes but can you find the King and Queen, the Judges Wig, the Great Umbrellas, Queen Elizabeth and her Maids of Honour and four Peacocks? Enjoy lunch with a view in The Bellingham Buttery, sit outside on the paved terrace overlooking the garden.
Our next place on this tour is the Beatrix Potter Gallery and Hill Top. The journey is just as much part of the experience, so take your time to stop off with cameras at the ready for some truly breathtaking scenery. The drive along the A591 will take you through the Lake District National Park, passing Lake Windermere, the largest natural lake in England. Then step aboard a Windermere Lake Cruise on either the Half Lake Cruise (90 minutes) or the Full Lake Cruise (three hours), stopping off at our first Beatrix Potter attraction. Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s 17th century farmhouse was purchased in 1905 with the proceeds of her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Open the gate and you’re surrounded by a lovely cottage garden, full of flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables. Back down the hill to the Beatrix Potter Gallery where you can learn all about Beatrix Potter’s life as a farmer and conservationist and enjoy some of her famous original drawings and watercolours. Return on the Lake Cruise where you can visit the steam railway and aquarium or have an early supper at one of the little towns and villages surrounding the lake.
Gardener’s events, Tatton Park, Cheshire: various dates. Many events including the restoration of the kitchen garden, container gardening and vegetable growing. Check website for more details.
Moonlight flicks, Roman Gardens, Chester: July and August. Watch a production in a spectacular open air theatre, seating just 510 people.
Lake District Summer Music, Chester: July and August. A magical night of movies under the stars set in truly idyllic surroundings.
Holker Chilli Fest, locations throughout the Lake District, Cumbria: early to mid-August. Hear great music played by world masters in the renowned beauty of the Lake District.
|Recommended transport||Mostly by car with some walking and optional boat cruise|
|Total travel distance||146 miles/235 km|
|Approximate travel time||2 h 50 min plus optional 90 min or 3 h hop on and off cruise and time walking|
|Nearest airports||Manchester manchesterairport.co.uk |
Liverpool John Lennon liverpoolairport.com
Leeds Bradford leedsbradfordairport.co.uk
|Nearest main rail station||Manchester Piccadilly nationalrail.co.uk|
|Visitor information||Real-time local information realtimetravelguide.co.uk |
Chester Visitor Information Centre visitchester.com
Windermere Tourist Information Centre golakes.co.uk
Continue with the Magnificent Yorkshire gardens itinerary.
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